‘Why is my Honda make a ‘popping’ sound?’

The Car Doc weighs in.

2016 Honda Pilot Elite
2016 Honda Pilot Elite –Honda

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Q. I have a 2016 Honda Pilot with a nine-speed transmission. While accelerating between 27 and 29 miles per hour, I hear a popping sound (for lack of better description). It’s not really loud, but it is annoying, and I can feel it under the gas pedal. It only happens at that speed. It happens most of the time, but not 100 percent of the time. I took a test drive with my local service department’s supervisor, and he said it was the gears shifting. My husband thinks otherwise, and I tend to agree with him: Wouldn’t it happen all the time if it was the gears shifting? My next option is to test drive another vehicle in the exact same model to see if it happens, but that’s a pain. Have you heard of this issue? Do you think it’s a problem?  


A. Road testing the exact vehicle makes the most sense to determine if the issue is unique to your vehicle. If the exact same vehicle produces the same result for you, then it is a characteristic but not necessarily a problem. What I suspect you are feeling is the result of the normal cylinder-deactivation — the engine runs on three cylinders at certain times — combined with the new transmission characteristics. Although annoying, the vehicle gets better fuel economy as a result.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. He answers readers’ questions each Saturday. You can tune in to his radio program Saturday morning from 8:30-10 a.m. on 950AM WROL or www.wrolradio.com. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook mrjohnfpaul.

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